Thunder forward labeled one of 'best free agency targets' for polarizing rival

The Los Angeles Lakers are being urged to consider shelling out a minimum contract offer to one of the OKC Thunder's free agent forwards.
Apr 14, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault gestures to his team during a play against the Dallas Mavericks in the second half at Paycom Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 14, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault gestures to his team during a play against the Dallas Mavericks in the second half at Paycom Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports / Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
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With their enviable amount of cap space, the OKC Thunder have been quite busy during these early stages of NBA Free Agency, as they've already signed the likes of Isaiah Joe, Aaron Wiggins, and Isaiah Hartenstein to brand new, long-term pacts.

However, Oklahoma City's activity on the open market is not just limited to whom they opt to bring aboard for 2024-25 but, also, to which of their own free agents they're willing to watch depart.

With the Joe and Wiggins deals, it appears the franchise has already locked up the two available players from last year's roster that they wish to hold onto, meaning the remaining individuals currently residing on the open market may very well be heading out of Loud City in the near future.

Gordon Hayward, the ball club's splashy albeit ultimately underwhelming trade deadline acquisition, is one of these said individuals who is up for the taking and, while his brief stint with the Thunder may not have made him a highly coveted free agent this summer, his career accolades and established on-court metrics from throughout the years still will have organizations keeping a close eye on him and, according to Stephen Noh of The Sporting News, the Los Angeles Lakers should be in the mix.

Lakers urged to target Thunder forward Gordon Hayward in free agency

In a recent piece, Noh discussed the best free agents during this summer's class that have yet to be scooped up who could be worth Los Angeles taking a swing on, and, though he admittedly believes there's a chance he may be "totally washed," on a minimum deal Hayward is worth a look.

"Hayward had a disastrous second half of the season after being acquired by the Thunder, failing to crack the rotation and looking timid when he did play. Sam Presti admitted at the end of the season that it was a mistake to trade for him.

That outcome was surprising given that Hayward was playing well in Charlotte before the trade, averaging 14.5 points per game and contributing solid defense. At age 34 and after an injury-plagued career, he's not close to the guy he was 10 years ago. But he is a 37.0% 3-point shooter who can do a little bit of everything. "

Stephen Noh

As noted by Noh, prior to making his way to the Thunder back in early February, Hayward found himself amid yet another solid season with the Hornets.

In fact, up until he landed in Loud City, during his previous four seasons coming into 2023-24, the veteran had been putting up tremendous all-around averages of 16.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and just shy of a steal while shooting 47.7 percent from the floor and 38.2 percent from distance.

In his own words, his fit with the Thunder was "not what I thought it would be," particularly hinting at the fact that he had a different role than what he believed it would be upon coming aboard, though believes that "as a player, I have a lot to offer and I wasn't given much of an opportunity to do that."

At this point, it should go without saying that Hayward's time in Oklahoma City is all but over, and that, in the fall, he'll be donning another club's threads.

Because of this, Noh believes the cash-strapped Lakers should be interested in finding out whether or not the former All-Star forward's sentiment of still having "a lot to offer" is true as they look to make another run in the Western Conference.

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